Having the courage to make a difference

​​​Two​ holocaust survivors have encouraged Year 11 students at St Peter Claver College, Riverview, to stand up for what's right, rather than be a bystander, when faced with injustice.

Living historians Mimi and Susie shared their experiences during World War II with the students, emphasising the story of their rescue and the support provided by others – support which enabled them to survive.

The pair are members of the Courage to Care travelling exhibition, an organisation that aims to empower senior school students to stand up to prejudice, discrimination and bullying.

Mimi explained how she was only seven-years old when war broke out.

She told the students how she was constantly on the run from the Nazis with her grandparents, mum and dad, and her little brother.

Her parents did everything they could to keep the children and grandparents safe even if it meant being separated for months on end without any form of contact

Student Summer-Rose Radley said although Mimi's story was one of millions to be told, it really moved her and made her feel grateful for everything that she had.

“What these survivors went through is so traumatic that we can't even imagine," she said.

“Yet people like Mimi are so resilient that they can continue a family in a completely different country and live their life to the fullest.

“I think a message that everyone should take out of this is that we should be so grateful for the people that we love and the fact that we live in a society where discrimination is not tolerated."

Student Ryan Green said he felt privileged to meet and hear the stories of two Holocaust survivors.

“They gave us an insight into how tough it was being Jewish during World War II," he said.

Ryan said they learnt about various movements by those who were against the Nazis and who risked their lives to save countless amounts of Jewish people across Europe.

He said they included the Danish resistance movement and many everyday citizens.

“The bravery and courage of these individuals who risked not only their lives, but their families also, to stand up against their government and protect people they may have never met before, in my eyes is something to be commended."

He said he was extremely grateful to have been a part of such a life changing experience and was every student took away something different from the stories.

“I'm sure it has inspired many of my fellow peers to stand up against discrimination in the community, as, although our actions may not compare to those of the Danish resistance, they can be a great importance in ensuring that everyone is treated equally."

“I know that thanks to the Courage of Care volunteers we have all learnt a valuable lesson."

Student Tuia Gregory said he wanted to make a difference.

“So much of what had happened in these rescue stories was dependant on the courageousness of a select few who stood up against the oppressors and made the choices necessary to create change," he said

“Nothing will ever change if we don't take the steps towards positive action.

“To make a difference in this world we must all join together to do what we know is right by having the courage to care," he said.

Assistant Principal for Religious Education Angela Ryan said the student-centred program conveyed messages of social tolerance and of living in harmony.

She said it linked in particularly well with Study of Religion and Religion and Ethics and with Say No to Bullying Day and Harmony Day.

“The exhibition emphasised the importance of standing up to racism, persecution and any form of prejudice, especially in relation to individuals who belong to minority groups.

“It was especially relevant to school students as they encounter media images of intolerance and prejudice, or when they experience racism or bullying at school, she said.